you wish to join our club (and new members are very welcome)
you can now download an application form from here.
The form is in Microsoft Word format so should be readily
viewable. The forms will also be available per the usual
well loved presentation "Birds of our Rivers,
Hills & Moors" is now available on DVD, for
the modest price of £5.00, from our local 'paper
shop' (A M Grieves, Newsagents) on the High Street. If
you cannot get one there, please contact John per our
'Contacts' page and we can get one to you. The running
time is approximately 86 minutes and is a great historical
record of the local birdlife as it was in 1973 and has
some tremendous photographs. Profits go to the club funds
and we are grateful to Jock for his permission to produce
it (and to forego his 'cut'!).
on any image will give an enlarged version (maximum 640
x 480 pixels approximately). Higher resolution images
are available on request (subject to the copyright holder's
agreement) - contact John for details.
From John - was sitting in front of my computer
when a spider came abseilling down past my nose. Grabbed
the magnifying glass and chased it around the desk while
noting its appearance as it was a type I'd not seen before.
Got a container to hold it to try for a photo but, sure
enough, in those few seconds it had escaped somewhere!
However, after much browsing of spider info, I finally
got the answer. It was a Steatoda bipunctata, one
of the false widow spiders, commonly known as a 'rabbit
hutch spider' as often found there. Apparently quite common
throughout the UK yet first time I've come across one.
Signs of spring! Chiffchaff heard calling down
at our reserve yesterday morning.
A message from Jean (Hoppertitty):
"Thought I'd send you this pic of frogs yesterday.
Counted 22 at one point in our pond - plenty of croaking
and interestingly the copious spawn has been deposited
in a much deeper part of the pond this year.
Saw first bumblebee of this year briefly yesterday too.
Lovely to see a bit of sunshine."
(Photo has been cropped to fit the page
Frogs are also
active down at the reserve now with a fair number on the
Woodland Pond yesterday though none evident on the other
ponds as yet.
what triggers activity, a source giving lots of info about
frogs and toads states that activity normally starts when
the nighttime temperature reaches approximately FIVE degrees
over a few nights but can be occur when THREE degrees
is reached, especially when rain is expected. A further
source informs us that his frog activity always seems
to occur at the first full moon after the latter part
of February! John's frogs seem to have retired after two
weeks - night camera now showing only the odd one or two
- but still no explanation on why active only at night
this year, never in the daylight.
A couple of recent reports for you.
The first from Ken Hines, Smith Way,Beattock
" It's been a rather unusual year with little bird
activity other than the regulars, chaffinch, house sparrow
and starling. However the last week to 10 days has seen
a sudden influx of assorted birds, approx 30 siskins,
a similar number of goldfinches, 2 reed buntings, 2 lesser
redpolls and great spotted wood pecker. All this despite
same food being available all winter, no idea why the
is from Iain with various sightings -
Peter Ball saw and photographed a wader on the raft on
the Community Reserve lochan with a group of 15 or so
Oystercatchers on Tuesday 10th March. After having sent
photographs to various people and myself and Garry seeing
the bird on the Wednesday/Thursday it has turned out to
be a female Black Tailed Godwit......which is a great
sighting and to the best of my knowledge a first for the
Moffat/Beattock area. Also at the Community Reserve on
the Thursday were 31 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 4 female
Goosander, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant and the odd Curlew.
While last Saturday on the newest dug out pond on the
Meadow were a family of 6 Whooper Swans with 3 Curlew
passing overhead. Michael Currie reported seeing the female
Peregrine over Moffat for the first time this year today.
And from Ron
Lewis-Smith on the subject of frogs -
"Regarding the latest news item about the lack of
frog (and toad?) activity is most likely because of their
sensitivity to temperature. Typically, at this time of
the year, as soon as the night air temperature reaches
around 10 degC they suddenly appear in their hoards making
for their spawning ponds. I guess we haven't experienced
that so far, whereas we did by this time last year."
Very informative, but temperatures in Moffat are still
a long way below 10 degrees at night and John's frogs
have been busy during nightime but absent in the day,
quite a bit of spawn in the pond and there are still a
fair few frogs active at night. Looks like there must
be another explanation somewhere.
Surprisingly, few reports so far of frog activity.
However, the pond in John's garden has seen quite a bit
over the past week or so and there is a good quantity
of spawn now. Oddly, all activity has been during the
hours of darkness with probably 50 or more present. My
night camera shows frogs in plenty from about mid-evening
to around 5.00am when they start to vanish and by full
daylight there is only an occasional frog to be seen.
In previous years, activity has been going on both day
and night. Anyone got any idea why the change this year?
(Removed, no longer relevant)
From Ron Lewis-Smith -
At last seen my first brambling this winter -
in fact a tight flock of at least 200 on the ground and
in large oak and beech trees on the Alton Motte, and vicinity,
from c. 10-10.30 am today during flurries of snow.
This is by
far the biggest sighting we have heard of this season!
February 2015 - A change of program for the March
Our scheduled speaker has unfortunately had to cancel.
However, all is not lost as Bobby Smith has stepped
into the breach. Although we don't have his topic yet,
it will no doubt be just as interesting as his previous
presentations. See you there!
Have just received two annual reports from Andy
Riches. The first is for Castle
Loch & Hightae LNRs 2014. The second
is the County
Mammal Report for 2014.
Andy adds the following comment regarding the latter -
" You will have noticed that the Roe Deer distribution
map for 2014 shows a substantial reduction in distribution
from that of 2013. This is almost certainly not a true
reduction in distribution but a lack of records. It is
crucial to remember that the maps reflect records received
and there may well be areas and species that are heavily
under recorded. Under recording is a particular problem
with common species such as the Roe Deer or the Rabbit.
Now you know what I am looking for to include in the 2015
2015 - European Tree of the Year
We have a message from Jonathan Pinnick, one of the team
that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of
the Lowes -
There is no
postal vote this time, only on-line. The following link
will take you to the entry page.
The entry form is on the right of the page, you may have
to scroll over to see it..
Latest update from Iain -
Very little to report from the start of the year. Local
shooters reported seeing very few Woodcock in our area
but lots of Wood Pigeon feeding on Beech mast. Very few
winter birds around such as Redwing, Fieldfare, Brambling
and Waxwing. A lack of Tawny Owls being heard? Anybody
heard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker? Only sightings
I have are a Golden Eagle over Moffat on the 13th and
a flock of 42 Brambling at Millhousebridge from Garry
Tait. At the Community Reserve lochan on the 14th were
5 Mute Swan and a Pink Footed Goose. Garry saw three Black
Grouse near Tweedshaws on the 16th. Hopefully the remainder
of Winter and the return of Spring will bring some more
And some reports from Dave Bradshaw -
18/01/15 - 1 Brambling with Chaffinch Beattock country
park, still 1 juv Mute Swan on lake with 2 Adults. They
seem to have distanced themselves from it. Other 7 have
left. 2 Bullfinches outside in trees by railway bridge.
21/01/15 - Leadhills road 2 female Kestrels, 1 Red Grouse.
28/01/15 - Siskin numbers are building up here in Cornal
Court, usually peak late March, early April. There has
been a flock of about 15 Goldfinches since before Xmas.
This morning 3 Bullfinches on the trees dropping on to
the grass alongside the garages to feed. Also a Treecreeper.
My feeder and gardent his morning at one time had 13 Goldfinch,
5 Siskin, 5 House Sparrow and 8 Chaffinch. At the reserve
yesterday a pair of Mute swan. 2 Dippers at Beattock bridge,
1 at Station Park bridge. 170 Pinkfeet over the co op.
And John adds - was complaining to Iain on Wednesday that
hadn't heard any Tawnies for months only to hear one calling
that evening! Blue Tits are scouting nest boxes and House
Sparrows inspecting the spaces under roof edges around
Greenwood Close so spring must be on its way.
Here we are with another year and with little
to report! Our usual winter visitors have been few and
far between this season, a few small flocks of Redwing,
likewise of Fieldfare, only an occasional sighting of
Brambling and no further reports of Waxwing since November.
It looks like most of us have has a distinct drop in the
number of birds coming into our gardens, they must still
be finding plenty of 'natural' food and prefer that to
our offerings. Numbers have gone up on the few hard days
we've had, only to drop off again as soon as the frosts
have lifted. There is no cause for concern, the bird population
is as healthy as it ever was. John's garden is renowned
for the lack of birds in wet weather and last week saw
a record low - Blackbird and Chaffinch only and only a
few of each - offset by a more normal 6-8 types of bird
in much greater numbers the following day.